As much as I respect Jackson Baker, I think he has missed the story in Richard Holden's resignation. I take personal umbrage at the statement "There often seemed to be a good deal of overreach by Holden's critics, and no doubt partisan motives played a role in his tribulations, as did a general need to find a scapegoat for problems and circumstances beyond the province of a single individual." I am a Democratic partisan, but the problems I have been involved with with the SCEC are basic voter rights issues regardless of party affiliation. Nor has there been overreach. Mr. Baker is correct in that these errors are probably beyond a single individual.
But that begs the point. That means the other individuals responsible for the abysmal performance of the SCEC are still in place. The media has not even reported on the serious questions arising out of the October 18 election. We now have the Democratic commissioners saying they do not trust the results put out by the SCEC. This gives the lie to Mt. Meyers contention that all is well because both parties watch each other. Mrs. Lester and Mr. Tatum have said they are excluded from the process and that basically the results represent the unopposed actions of the three Republicans.
In the meantime, the SCEC investigates nothing. They have yet to explain the 2012 debacle nor the 2015 mishap. Most seriously, they have failed to address the repeated failures of their systems to detect errors before machine go out live to the voters. This failure literally means that no member of the SCEC can guarantee that we have used legitimate ballots in the last several elections.
This is not an overreach, Mr. Baker. It is federal standard of care for election administration. We also do not run mock elections prior to the election to test vote. They do not run parallel testing during elections and do no post election audits. In short, we have almost no safeguards that protect the integrity of the ballot or the results.
And that does not even get into the fraud involved with certifying these election machines by the state.
I think you have done the cause of election integrity a disservice by trivializing serious potential ongoing problems and the continued presence of Mr. Holden's enablers. So despite Mr. Meyers stated desire for me to disappear, I intend to stay around observing the current gang that couldn't shoot straight- the Republican members of the SCEC.
Joseph Weinberg, M.D.
To Pecos Rat- That's a good question. Operational issues are made by Mr. Holden. IF a Democratic Board member challenges something, the three Republicans all vote to support Holden. So it is hard to say what is decided beforehand. They only put out a minimal agenda and then only on the day of the meeting. We know they will certify elections this Monday, but if anything else will be discussed, it will pop up under Holden's report or a committee or IT report.
As to how decisions are made, I haven't a clue. It is strange that the three Republican Commissioners steadfastly support Mr. Holden when he keeps getting them into trouble. Joe Weinberg
Mr. Giannini's response to #17 demonstrates that he does not grasp the nature of the problem with the SCEC electronic voting system. A defense based on dummy races being "a standard feature in the GEMS system" is no defense at all. The GEMS software system IS the problem. GEMS has no credibility and no ability to guarantee the accuracy of its counts. While he may feel voters state their "ballot being cast reflects the intended choices", voters are left to wonder if their ballot as counted reflects those same intended choices. Based on reports from independent reviewers, we do not know who all the "parties" are who could have access to these "no-count" data bases. Nor does Mr. Giannini or anyone else.
Therein lies the folly of the General Assembly’s actions last January to thwart the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act. Experts maintain a person can alter the results of an election on our machines in minutes and it is untraceable. Unfortunately, for reasons known only to Senators Mark Norris, Ron Ramsey, et al, the Republican caucus’s first action last January guaranteed no one can tell us that our votes counted at all or counted for the right person. Thank you Senator Norris. Now we will never know if Mark Luttrell is really our Mayor.
Rubbing salt in an already open partisan wound created by the Republican legislature, Mr. Giannini denied access to records on the basis of the sanctity of a commercial contract. He holds the preposterous position that the public cannot attempt to verify our votes because we might harm an SCEC vendor. Here’s a news flash for the entire SCEC. Our democracy’s interests trump those of a commercial vendor. I assume this offensive contract clause was approved by the prior Democratic commission. So both parties share in this particular folly as well as the previous Director of Elections. Right now, the SCEC does not run our elections. Their vendor does and may control the outcomes as well.
Urgent action is needed now or we will face the same convoluted mess in November. People can and should argue about whistle blowers and missing ballots from last August. We must also demand better from the SCEC and the Republican legislature now for the voting that starts in just a few weeks. How can we vote on these same tainted machines again??‼
1. Demand paper ballots for this October’s early vote.
a. Not Enough time. Impractical.- Just get it done and send senator Norris the bill.
2. Make your own paper ballot- ask for a write-in ballot when you vote.
3. Demand cancellation of any contracts that do not allow open access to the code, including all changes.
4. We need transparency in vote counting.
Thanks to Shannon for putting some of the real facts out there. Thanks to Professor Mulroy and his associates for standing up for all of Tennessee's voters, be they Democrat, Republican or Independent. The real bottom line is that no one- not Mr. Holden here in Shelby County, not Mr. Goins on Nashville or Secretary of State Hargett-can assure us that there have been no problems in Tennessee in the past and that there will be none in the future using our current machines. There is absolutely no way to know if election results have been changed as there is no way to audit the accuracy of the count.
What is known without question is that the basic software running these machines has insufficient security built into it and that there have been documented edits of code after machines were supposedly secured in many voting venues across the nation. As noted by Shannon, this includes Shelby County. Here is what computer scientists from Princeton and Berkeley said in their 2007 report to the State of California:
"Our study of the Diebold source code found that the system does not meet the requirements for a security-critical system. It is built upon an inherently fragile design and suffers from implementation flaws that can expose the entire voting system to attacks. These vulnerabilities, if exploited, could jeopardize voter privacy and the integrity of elections. An attack could plausibly be accomplished by a single skilled individual with temporary access to a single voting machine. The damage could be extensive—malicious code could spread to every voting machine in polling places and to county election servers. Even with a paper trail, malicious code might be able to subtly influence close elections, and it could disrupt elections by causing widespread equipment failure on election day.
We conclude that these problems arose because of a failure to design and build the system with security as a central focus, which led to the inconsistent application of accepted security engineering practices.”
These conclusions echo conclusions from other computer scientists, including those in charge of the National Science Foundation electronic voting project. The question is not whether these machines need to be replaced, but why are we using them at all. Those initial purchase decisions were made under a Democratic controlled Election Commission system. So why is this now a partisan issue? Shouldn’t both parties want honest elections? Why is Tre Hargett determined to use machines that represent a real security threat? Why has he trumped up a silly squabble over semantics to block the will of the legislature? With all our serious problems, why has Sen. Ramsey declared postponing implementation of the law priority number one? Something doesn’t add up logically here.
I believe Mr. Holden is committed to running a bipartisan office dedicated to fair elections. But his op-ed piece did not address these extremely serious security issues. They will remain a cloud over every election as long as we continue to use these flawed Diebold machines. As the California report concluded “…the safest way to repair the Diebold system is to reengineer it so that it is secure by design.” Our legislature has chosen to repair our election system by replacing these risky machines. We need to get on with that task before the important 2010 elections.
WE ALL NEED TO PUSH FOR VERIFIABLE, RECOUNTABLE BALLOTS. CONTACT LEGISLATORS. INVOLVE YOUR FRIENDS. POST ON BLOGS. WRITE LETTERS.
By Richard Alley
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